The TTI Center for Transportation Safety is home to a desktop driving simulator which provides measurements of driver's responses to roadway situations in a portable system. The Real Time Technologies system allows in-house development of new roadway scenarios. The desktop set-up allows testing of drivers with a wide variety of driving experience. Most simulators are fixed location, including TTI's old simulator, so that research participants are only drawn from the city in which the simulator resides. Because Texas is so diverse geographically and culturally, TTI invested in a simulator which can be installed in our urban offices or in a conference room or office in any location.
A driving simulator provides a safe and controlled environment to further explore the comprehension and compliance in response to novel traffic control devices. In the driving simulator environment it is possible to inexpensively test multiple variations of the design and placement of a new device. In addition, a wider variety of roadway geometries and traffic conditions can be tested than are typically possible in a test-track study or fiscally practical in a field study. For instance, factors which limit sight distance factors can easily be introduced. Cross-traffic density can also be manipulated.
The driving simulator offers a library of different roadway cross-sections and interchanges. Using this library, simulator scenarios, or "worlds," will be created which represent a typical roadway design for a stop-controlled intersection. The worlds will be constructed such that other traffic can be programmed to interact with the research participant and other events can be initiated by hidden location- or time-dependent triggers. In addition, custom roadway tiles can be programmed to match a specific roadway segment.
Driver performance can be assessed by several measures, these include:
- Distance from the stop bar when final stop was executed,
- Distance from intersection at which throttle was released,
- Deceleration rate to intersection,
- Gap acceptance of cross traffic, and/or
- Verbal responses to questions concerning comprehension of the device.
The simulator also provides a platform to evaluate driving distraction and driver interaction with in-vehicle technologies.
For More InformationAlicia Nelson
CTS/Human Factors Group
Texas A&M Transportation Institute
Texas A&M University System
College Station, TX 77843-3135